Apple's Vision Pro headset could be plagued by unoptimized apps at launch and ship with little more than windowed iPad versions

Wearing Vision Pro in the home
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Apple's Vision Pro headset is set to go up for preorder on January 19 for $3,499 after months of waiting. The headset was first announced at WWDC in June 2023 with a vague release window of early 2024. Now, we know that February 2 will be the big day, and we're starting to learn more and more about what that launch will entail.

Apple is already working on getting its stores ready for the big launch and people will be able to try the headset on for the first time if they'd like to. When they do, they'll likely have access to all of Apple's first-party apps — all of those preinstalled on the Vision Pro — as well as a select collection of third-party software. But a new report suggests that we should perhaps temper our expectations for how good those Apple-built apps are going to be when we put the Vision Pro on for the first time.

That's after it was claimed that while there will be plenty of first-party apps available for the Vision Pro, not all of them are going to have had a spatial computing redesign ahead of the big day. In fact, it's been suggested that some of those apps will be little more than their iPad counterparts running in an augmented reality window.

Grounds for disappointment

This is according to YouTuber Quinn Nelson, posting to X via the Snazzy Labs account. According to Nelson, "sources close to the matter tell me that only about half of Apple’s apps are optimized for Vision Pro and it’s unlikely they’ll all get a fresh coat of paint before launch." That in turn means that "several are running as just windowed iPadOS apps."

What that will ultimately look like isn't yet clear, and we of course don't know which of these apps are going to have had their AR/VR lick of paint come February 2. But the suggestion that Apple hasn't updated all of its apps ready for the big day is perhaps a worrying one given the amount of time the company has had to get its ducks in a row ahead of time.

Apple might have announced the Vision Pro in June, but it's been working on it for years. Not only do we know which apps Apple has chosen to give the Vision Pro refresh to, but we also don't know if the list is final — will Apple continue to update apps as time goes on? If so, we might see the so-called iPadOS versions of those apps updated at a later date to give them a new look more befitting the Vision Pro experience.

The Vision Pro project is one that has so far failed to capture the imagination of the public in a way that Apple might have hoped, no doubt thanks in part to that huge $3,499 asking price. Apps that aren't fully built to show the headset off to its best won't help the situation, but Apple will no doubt hope that third-party app developers can help fill the void.

Ultimately, the Vision Pro might not find its home in Apple's lineup until a cheaper, more easily accessible version reaches the market. Apple is reportedly working on finding ways to reduce the high asking price. Hopefully it'll have worked on updating the rest of its apps by the time that version goes on sale.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.